Electronic music is a broad term that encompasses many styles and subgenres of music that use electronic instruments, devices, or technologies to create, manipulate, or enhance sound. That being said, the genre can be traced back to the late 19th and early 20th century, when inventors and composers experimented with various forms of sound synthesis, recording, and manipulation. However, it was not until the 1960s that electronic music became more widely accessible, popular, and diverse, thanks to the development of new technologies, techniques, and musical movements.
The 1960s was a decade of innovation and experimentation in electronic music, as musicians explored the possibilities of digital computer music, live electronics, tape music, musique concrète, electronic rock, and psychedelic music. Some of the most influential artists and albums in the genre emerged during this period, such as:
- Karlheinz Stockhausen: A German composer who pioneered serialism, spatial music, and electronic music. He composed many groundbreaking works using electronic generators, tape recorders, synthesizers, and computers, such as Gesang der Jünglinge (1956), Kontakte (1960), Hymnen (1967), and Stimmung (1968).
- Wendy Carlos: An American composer who popularized the use of the Moog synthesizer in classical and popular music. She recorded several albums that showcased the expressive and versatile capabilities of the Moog, such as Switched-On Bach (1968), The Well-Tempered Synthesizer (1969), and Sonic Seasonings (1972).
- The Beatles: A British rock band that revolutionized popular music with their innovative use of studio techniques, tape loops, sampling, and electronic instruments. They incorporated elements of electronic music in many of their albums, such as Revolver (1966), Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), The Beatles (1968), and Abbey Road (1969).
- Pink Floyd: A British rock band that pioneered progressive rock and psychedelic music with their experimental use of sound effects, synthesizers, and quadraphonic sound. They created some of the most influential albums in electronic music history, such as The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967), Ummagumma (1969), Atom Heart Mother (1970), and Meddle (1971).
- Kraftwerk: A German band that is considered one of the founders of electronic pop music and synth-pop. They used drum machines, vocoders, sequencers, and synthesizers to create minimalist and futuristic songs that influenced many genres of electronic music. Some of their most notable albums are Autobahn (1974), Radio-Activity (1975), Trans-Europe Express (1977), and The Man-Machine (1978).
In short, the 1960s shaped much of the history of electronic music. It was a time when musicians experimented with new sounds and technologies, creating new musical forms and expressions. It was also a time when electronic music reached a wider audience and influenced many aspects of culture and society.